|Farewell, Fat Rockfish
How is it possible that the 2000 rockfish season is over, particularly with so many large fish still lurking in Bay waters? What a bummer, and curses to work and other commitments that kept me on land when the bite was hot.
Of course the waterfowl season played a large part in my missing opportunities to get on the water. Maybe next year Ill forgo a few days of the middle split of the duck season to get in more sea time to chase these bruisers. (Sounds like a good plan now, but well see if I stick to it next year.)
Without question, late November has been prime time for catching big rockfish over the past several years, and this season has been no different. In fact, the fishing over the past two weeks has been excellent and, by most accounts, it is only going to get better. The irony, of course, is that the Maryland striped bass season ended Thursday. Id gladly give up a month of summer rockfishing for two extra weeks in the late fall. Let me amend that: Id forgo fishing for rockfish in July and August for a striper season that runs several weeks longer in the fall.
I did manage to get out one last day before the season went out, even if it was only for a couple hours. Karl Roscher invited me aboard his sweet Wellcraft 32-foot sportfisher for a quick jaunt out on the Bay. From Karls dock on the South River, he, his future brother-in-law Kevin Cratty and I beelined for Bloody Point Light, where we marked decent numbers of fish and tons of bait. Encouraged, we trolled parachutes and bucktails, but we decided to change tactics when a small mob of gulls and terns started to snatch baitfish from the surface. Again, the fish meter showed several nice marks, which were holding in depths ranging from 60 feet (on the bottom) to 35 feet.
I tried dropping heavy metal jigs and soft plastics, but only undersized rockfish and white perch came up from the depths. When the fish drove the fleeing silversides to the surface, Karl cast a two-ounce Hopkins Smoothie (blue and silver metal spoon) into the fray. It turned out to be the right choice at the right time. At the other end of the line, a fat 26-inch striper, which only minutes before had been gorging on silversides several inches long, struggled to break free before coming to net. It proved to be the only keeper caught.
But I plan to extend my fishing season into December, thanks to the longer season in the Old Dominion.
Fish Are Biting
From Smith Point to Breezy Point, anglers continued to catch hefty rockfish right up until the close of the season. Anglers looking for those brutes, however, must now venture into Virginia waters, where the season lasts until the end of December. There are reports of some weakfish still in our part of the Bay, but they are scattered from the Bay Bridges south past Point Lookout.